Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Magic the Gathering cosplay — Avatar of Woe: helmet

Published by Manning on August 31st, 2017

Avatar of Woe -- paper mache cosplay helmet

Another fun commission! This client wanted to cosplay the Avatar of Woe card from Magic the Gathering, and she hired me to make this custom horned helmet and scythe.

Making the basic helmet shape

Avatar of Woe helmet - bubble wrap on base

To make the Avatar of Woe’s helmet, I started with a styrofoam head I had lying around. I wanted to make the helmet slightly larger than the foam head, so I wrapped it in strips of bubble wrap; I took a 12″ roll of bubble wrap, cut off about three feet, then cut that into three-inch strips, taped them together, and wound them onto the head as evenly as possible, securing them here and with masking tape.

Avatar of Woe helmet - masking tape on base

After the bubble wrap, I covered the head with a plastic shopping bag and taped it in place. I then wrapped the head entirely with masking tape, as tightly as possible. The plastic bag is in there to make all of this easy to remove when the paper maché is done. If I just did the tape layer onto the bubble wrap, when it was time to slice everything open to remove the head, I’d have to cut all the way through the tape and the bubble wrap, into the head. With the bag there, I’ll only have to cut as deep as the bag, then I can remove the paper maché/tape/bag, and easily unwrap and remove the bubble wrap.

Avatar of Woe cosplay - craft foam flared neckguard

I created a flared neck guard shape in the back of the helmet with a piece of craft foam, taped in place.

I then applied five layers of paper maché (for starters) over the whole helmet shape. You can read about my usual paper maché process and materials here. The short version is: I use Roman PRO-543 universal wallpaper adhesive (paid link) and alternating layers of newspaper and brown wrapping paper.

When that was dry, I carefully removed the paper maché helmet shape from the head base with an X-acto knife.

I let my client try the helmet for fit, and we confirmed it was the right size but needed a few small adjustments — I brought the line of the forehead area down a little bit, and I added some more height at the bottom outer edge. I created those new parts with craft foam, taped in place, and then added about seven layers of paper maché over them.

Making the horns

In order to keep the Avatar of Woe’s huge horns nice and symmetrical I decided to design and build just one horn shape and then use it as a mold for my paper maché, creating two hollow copies that could be attached to the helmet. This meant that the horn shape would have to be exactly the same in the front and back, since one copy would be flipped. In order to achieve this level of precision, I used Photoshop to design the basic horn shape along with a series of ovals to round it out. Probably overkill, but I like working this way!

Avatar of Woe helmet - foam board shapes

I printed out my design, cut out all the shapes, traced them onto a sheet of foam board, and cut them out with an X-acto knife.

Avatar of Woe cosplay - assembled horn shape

I assembled the pieces and carefully started stabilizing all of them with masking tape. The whole shape started off really rickety feeling but little by little it became more solid as I added more tape.

Avatar of Woe cosplay - sculpting the horns

Once all the ovals were pretty stable, I covered the entire shape with a layer of masking tape (above left). I then did a full layer of packing tape (above right). And then a second layer of masking tape (not shown) to really smooth it out. Layer by layer, the shape felt stronger and stronger. It was still a little bit soft, like, it was easy to compress between my hands, so I added one more step I don’t usually do: I added a one layer of paper maché. This made the overall shape a lot more solid and it made the outer surface feel a lot harder. Finally my base was complete. Now to prepare it for making two paper maché copies…

I covered the horn shape with a layer of aluminum foil, and then a very careful layer of masking tape. The foil is there to act as a release agent; I can add my paper maché over this stuff, let it dry, cut it open, and the foil will separate from the base very easily.

Avatar of Woe cosplay - finishing the horns

So, I applied seven layers of paper maché (above left), let them dry completely, and then sliced open the shape with my X-acto knife (above right; that’s the two open halves at the top and the base at the bottom). As expected, the two halves fell apart with no problem. I taped them back together with masking tape and covered the tape with two more layers of paper maché.

I then made my second copy of the horn the same way: aluminum foil on the base, cover with masking tape, add seven layers of paper maché, let dry, slice open and tape back together. It worked like a charm; the two finished horns were nice and lightweight and sturdy and symmetrical.

Putting it all together

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - connecting the horns with paper mache

I decided to add a little more space between the horns, so I created one more big oval piece of foam board, taped it in place between the two horns with about an inch on either side of it, and then covered this connection with seven layers of paper maché.

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - cutting out the shape for the helmet

When that was dry, I carefully drew and cut out the big half-circle shape for where the helmet fits in between them.

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - finished paper mache helmet shape

I slid the helmet into place and connected it to the horns with lots more masking tape. I smoothed over the angles of this connection area with tons more tape. I then covered over all this stuff with five layers of paper maché.

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - cutting out craft foam details

I added the little details on the helmet with pieces of craft foam, glued in place and covered with two layers of paper maché.

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - covering the details with paper mache

I wanted to cut some holes where the wearer’s ears will be to allow for better hearing; I know from experience it can be hard to hear when wearing a thing like this. A slight problem: the exact place where the wearer’s ears will be is right inside where the bases of the horns are.

Avatar of Woe cosplay helmet - adding holes with screen for sound and air circulation

So, I cut two holes inside the helmet where the wearer’s ears will be, and two more holes in the bottom of the horns, to at least allow for air and sound to travel through this L-shaped tunnel from inside the helmet to outside. I covered all four of these holes with black screen material — bought in a big roll, like for a screen door — and covered the edges with papier maché to lock them in place.

Avatar of Woe -- painting finished!

I let all of that dry and then it was time to paint! I spray painted the helmet black, inside and out. I used gold acrylic paint on the little gold bits. I applied one coating of matte spray to protect the paint job.

I then used a hot glue gun to attach some strips of rubbery craft foam inside the helmet, to make it a little more comfortable to wear. All done!

That’s all for the helmet! I can’t wait get pics of this lady wearing this thing! See part two, Avatar of Woe: scythe.

Interested in commissioning a piece from me? Please see my page about custom paper maché pieces. Please email me; don't put your request in a comment below.

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